City Wall of Nanjing – Ticket Price, Opening Hours, Location, and Highlihgts

nanjing city wall

The Nanjing Ming City Wall is a historical marvel and a testament to China’s rich architectural and military heritage. It holds the distinction of being the world’s longest, largest in scale, and best-preserved ancient city wall. Construction of this magnificent structure began in 1366 and was completed in 1393, spanning an impressive 28 years. The project involved the efforts of over 280,000 laborers from five provinces and 162 counties, using approximately 350 million bricks to create the intricate four-layered defensive layout.

The construction of the Ming City Wall in Nanjing marked a departure from the traditional square or rectangular designs commonly used in ancient city walls. Instead, it followed the natural topography of the surrounding landscape, incorporating mountains and waterways. The Qinhuai River to the south served as a natural moat, while the Zhongshan Mountain to the east, the Houhu Lake to the north, and the Shicheng City to the west all contributed to the wall’s unique defensive features. The primary city wall in Nanjing extends a staggering 35.3 kilometers, with 25.1 kilometers still intact, making it the largest city wall in China. Additionally, the outer city wall, encompassing over 60 kilometers, encloses an area of more than 230 square kilometers, standing as a historical marvel of global significance.

Table of Contents

Basic Information

Estimated Length of Tour1 – 2 hours
Ticket PriceMost sections of the city are free, apart from the following ones:
Shence Gate to Taiping Gate section: 30 RMB
Dongshui Gate to Jiqing Gate section: 50 RMB
Fugui Moutian to Lanqi Street section: 10 RMB
Opening Hours8.30 – 17.00

Location and Transportation

The City Wall itself encircles the historic core of Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, forming a protective boundary around the city’s central area. It spans a distance of approximately 35 kilometers and encompasses significant landmarks and attractions. Because of its length and central location, you can basically get there in whatever ways you like.

map of nanjing citywall

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Highlights of Nanjing Ming City Wall

City Gates

city gates of nanjing city wall

City gates are not only key transportation hubs connecting the inside and outside of the city but also serve as focal points in the defense and siege of ancient wars. The design and construction of the city gates in the Nanjing City Wall aimed to maximize their defensive capabilities while emphasizing architectural grandeur. Each city gate features two sets of doors: the outer “Qianjinzha (Gate of Thousands of Kilograms,” a formidable defensive mechanism lowered from the city wall, and the inner set, consisting of two large wooden doors reinforced with iron sheeting. Some of the famous city gates that still stand today include Zhonghua Gate, Xuanwu Gate, Zhongshan Gate, and Shence Gate.

Wengcheng (Parapet Gatehouses)

city wall walk in nanjing

Wengcheng, or parapet gatehouses, are subsidiary structures attached to city gates in ancient cities. They evolved as a product of China’s prolonged warfare in the era of cold weapons and became a mature architectural feature in the defense of city gates. Unlike traditional wengcheng, which were typically located outside city gates, the wengcheng of Nanjing’s city gates were creatively placed inside the city. This departure from the conventional design allowed for the inclusion of hidden barracks, transforming what was traditionally a vulnerable area of defense into a fortified position during military operations.


watchtowers of nanjing city wall

The moats surrounding the Nanjing Ming City Wall are a vital component of its defensive system. The construction involved dredging and excavating waterways on the outside of the city wall to channel water. The water sources for the moats are drawn from the Qinhuai River, Qingxi, Jinchuan River, Xuanwu Lake, Yanque Lake, and Pipa Lake. These wide moats, juxtaposed against the towering and robust city wall, created an imposing deterrent for would-be invaders. The existing moat of the Palace City spans approximately 40 kilometers, with the widest distance between the city wall and the moat measuring 334 meters and the narrowest at just 9 meters.

Soldier’s Caves

historical significance of nanjing city wall

Soldier’s Caves, or Cangbingdong, are concealed brick-vaulted chambers located within the city gates, serving dual purposes. During peacetime, they were used for storing city defense equipment and military supplies. In times of war, they provided shelter and resting places for soldiers. The inclusion of Soldier’s Caves within city gates was a unique innovation of the Nanjing City Wall, greatly enhancing its military defense capabilities. Key gates such as Tongji Gate, Zhonghua Gate, East Water Pass, and West Water Pass are equipped with intricate Soldier’s Caves. For instance, Zhonghua Gate features two layers with a total of 13 caves on the city wall’s upper part, and seven more on the lower part of both sides, totaling 27 caves. Each cave can accommodate more than 100 soldiers, allowing for the storage of over 3,000 soldiers in total.

Vlog about Nanjing City Wall

Useful Tips Summarized from Reviews

City Wall Segments: The Nanjing City Wall is divided into several segments, but most visitors opt to ascend the wall from the Zhonghuamen Castle (中华门城堡) and Jiefangmen (解放门). The choice is influenced by the better scenery at these locations, offering expansive views during sunset and throughout the day. Additionally, both places hold unique characteristics.

Significance of Locations: Zhonghuamen is a walled city (瓮城) with distinctive significance, while Jiefangmen is close to Jiming Temple, allowing visitors to climb the wall and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Xuanwu Lake and Jiming Temple.

Choosing the Entry Point: If you aim for convenience or wish to ascend the wall to view Jiming Temple and Xuanwu Lake, it’s recommended to use Jiefangmen. It is located north of Jiming Temple Road and is also referred to as “Tai Cheng” on the map. When purchasing tickets, choose the option for “Tai Cheng Scenic Area (Shence Gate – Taiping Gate section)”.

Central Zhonghuamen Area: Zhonghuamen is the essence of the city wall culture. You can take Metro Line 1 to Zhonghuamen Station. The wall here follows the pattern of a walled city (瓮城) with more detailed explanations. Adjacent to it is the Nanjing City Wall Museum (南京城墙博物馆). Even if you don’t climb the wall, you can make a free reservation to visit the museum, which is highly worthwhile. For ticket selection at Zhonghuamen Castle, choose “Dong Shuiguan – Ji Qingmen section”.

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